There is no shame in getting help for depression

Dear Editor,

Depression is not an imaginary thing; depression is a real and horrible illness that, unfortunately, affects many persons. It is deadly. It can cause loss of life. It is important to understand that this disease is a health crisis that must be addressed by professionals. I note an informative article captioned, `When suicide visited my home,’ (KN, June 10), written by Leonard Gildarie.

Editor, I do not usually suffer from depression, and have had no prior experience with it, however, on April 3, 2018, I had an accident at work. On that date, I suffered an electric shock from a defective air conditioner (AC). The AC had backed up causing water to drip onto the switch located underneath the AC unit. Trying to turn off the switch, I suffered a shock resulting in injury which caused severe depression and impaired judgment, among other neurological symptoms. It was a terrible and frightening time. It was the most terrifying recent experience of my life.

I was examined and was diagnosed with “a severe depressive episode following interaction with electric current.” In times past, my condition would have been called a nervous breakdown. Of course, there is always the odd person who, because of ignorance or for some other reason, expresses the view that the victim is faking illness as the injury is not visible. But enlightened, informed persons would know that depression is just as real as a broken arm or a fractured skull, except, depression is probably worse because the patient often suffers alone.

Depression is not necessarily sadness; it is a horrible feeling of helplessness, and difficulty doing otherwise normal things. Brushing my teeth, showering, or shaving – normal things – were almost impossible; they seemed as difficult as moving mountains. Even getting out of bed, making coffee, using the washroom, or feeding my pets, were too much. That is depression.

Fortunately, my mother, who is 71 years old, and other family members, took care of me during my time of distress. I experienced hallucinations inside my head. I saw things that were not real, over and over again. I contemplated taking my life to get away from those imaginary images, sounds and horrible thoughts.

On four occasions during my ordeal, I contemplated suicide. I realised that my life was in danger and I sought and received help from friends and professionals. I called friends and experts. I called for help.

Depression is real. And it is deadly.

I urge everyone, if you think that you are depressed, get help. There is no shame in that. Save your life.

I thank my former colleagues, my friends, and government officials – both senior and junior – who have reached out and supported me during my illness and who may have saved my life by doing so.

Fortunately, I am well on the way to complete recovery. And I am grateful for the offers of employment following my accident and illness, and look forward to returning to the world of work, and hope to continue to serve the people of Guyana in some capacity (my work-contract was abruptly terminated during my illness, following the accident).

Again, if you think that you are depressed, get help. Call a friend or a medical person. Call someone quickly. And get professional assistance.

And, importantly, don’t do anything which is irreversible, such as harming yourself or others.

Yours faithfully,

Mark DaCosta

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